Friday, March 16, 2001

The Cyber Scene in northeastern LOS ANGELES ~ by Kyrsten Johnson

A brief bit about Spring Internet World ~ March 14-16, 2001
As you read above, JoAnna Minneci and I wandered around the convention floor of Spring IW in search of a good time. We were disappointed -- there were few fanciful exhibits and not many good giveaways, but at least two items stand out in my mind:
The so-called "booth" for Genuity took up enough room to house a small factory, and it's showcase piece was a cross between a state fair ride and the Blue Man Group. In a costly display, six large blue cranes holding human-sized copper cups moved up and down in a random fashion. As we were trying to figure out what the contraption was for, guys in black t-shirts stood up in each cup and started drumming on the sides of their lofty prisons. Sadly, instead of making an impression this company's booth made me wonder how the display got approved in the face of Califorinia's current electricity crisis!

The one good giveaway to be found was a blue foam dinosaur on a strong wire offered by EmergeCore Networks. Okay, so we were easy to please, but everyone who saw us with one asked us where to get it. Even the security guards were trying to take them home!

My other reason for being at IW was to work the booth for the LA chapter of the Association for Internet Professionals. The AIP-LA is a great group for net-oriented executives and they've helped me network around this big city. I had the pleasure of meeting some of the home office folks out of New York like Lindsey Clark and Chris Feathers, and some other city leaders such as Ken Halbeck of the OC chapter. Thursday night the AIP-LA hosted its annual IW Party at the Hotel Figueroa downtown (read about it below), so Friday morning we were all nursing hangovers of some sort and were glad it was the event's last day.

Sad to say that the tradeshow itself was a bust, but I got to meet JoAnna and several other interesting people so it wasn't all bad. We left the convention floor at 4:30 so JoAnna could make it to the Tier One party, and I headed back to Pasadena for BioBrew.

BioBrew ~ March 14, 2001
I'd been trying to attend a BioBrew meeting for many months, thinking it would be highly beneficial for my company to network with some bio-tech groups. BioBrew is focused on networking business professionals, academic scientists, entrepreneurs, investors and service providers in the biomedical and life science fields. They hold meetings bi-monthly, rotating their venues through Pasadena, Westwood, and Santa Barbara.

Started in 1998 in a microbrewery near UCLA, the meetings today are organized by Convergent Ventures, a Los Angeles-based venture capital firm focused on early-stage biomedical and life science technologies. I met the CEO, Bill Robbins, and alsoNima Shiva, who runs the group's day-to-day operations. After talking with these gentlemen awhile, it came out that I take care of the site updates for the AIP-LA, and Mr. Shiva immediately asked if I could do the same for BioBrew! Of course I said yes.

The meeting was held on the CalTech campus at the Athenaeum Club. This magnificent building was built in 1930 and meant to bring together academic staff leaders and visiting scholars for the exchanging of ideas among lovers of science, art, and literature. The mansion is furnished with lovely antiques and embellished with Mediterranean-style landscaping and tennis courts. We were in an east wing room featuring 30-foot ceilings, comfortable couches and a dominating 12-foot stoneworked fireplace. The food and drinks were quite good, and I made some very good contacts. Michael Partsch of Versant Ventures was hoping to meet people with ideas or inventions that his company could invest in, and Ronald Egge of the CFO Venture Network was looking for companies in need of financial services. Someone who I've been trying to meet was Stuart Farber, President of CO2 -- he is trying to finalize contracts to build a grand bio-tech incubator near CalTech; he introduced me to John Owens of KPMG and alsoCarolyn Siegal of Cell Matrix.

If the other meetings are as good as this one, I won't be missing the next event!

AIP-LA Hotel Figueroa Party ~ March 15, 2001
The annual AIP-LA Figueroa Party had great drinks but definitely needed more food for the 500-plus crowd. I sat down to enjoy a margarita and discovered the sandwiches were gone after only twenty minutes, so my next two drinks went straight to my head! The party was held on the large patio by the pool in the beautiful and eclectic hotel -- if you didn't know better you'd think you were in Morocco.

The fiesta was supposed to be a pool party, but the weather turned cooler that day and no one was going to take a dip in the chill! I met the most fascinating people, though, and look forward to working with them on their future ventures. Milan Stevanovich has numerous companies and is producing the upcoming TechFests, which will be in many US cities and Europe soon if he can find enough enthusiastic people and a little bit of funding. Francis Shephard is the CEO of an Australian multimedia/IT consortium called Glasshouse 101, and he's working with AIP to host and organize their many chapter sites. The ever-funny Harriett Held, executive director with the AIP, is always fun to talk to, and I found out that she's never figured out how to program her cell phone so I assisted her that night. A leader of one of the largest high-tech networking groups in the USA and she's unable to use her phone! For shame, Harriett!

The party is pretty much a blur to me for most of the night, because I met so many people and enjoyed myself so much I stopped trying to network and just chatted with everyone near me. I ended up leaving a bit early before someone could buy me another drink, but I have to say that this was one event related to Spring Internet World that was highly enjoyable, and very successful!